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TENT TOWN 1898-1899

Minitonas is a vibrant community of about 600 people.

It is a beautiful little town where people are neighborly and caring. Yards, homes and properties are well kept. Minitonas is the northern gateway to the beautiful Duck Mountain Park. The park, only 15 kilometers from Minitonas, offers excellent summer and winter recreational opportunities such as camping, fishing, hunting, mountain biking, hiking, swimming, water skiing, canoeing, snowmobiling and ATVing. This pristine wilderness has quite an array of wildlife, birds, spectacular scenery and an abundance of lakes for sport fishing. 

Our community has a diverse population, a combination of young and old alike. Large serviced lots are available at very attractive prices allowing people to sell homes in larger centers and build similar or better homes for much less. We are free of smog, traffic lights, rush hour traffic or parking problems. Many young families have moved to town to enjoy the quality of life offered only in a small rural setting. Minitonas is a popular choice as a retirement community. There are two senior’s residences, the Chalet and Pioneer Baptist Lodge. Only ten minutes from downtown Minitonas, is a modern 52-bed hospital, doctors, pharmacies, ground and air ambulance service and a regional airport with daily air service to Winnipeg. Bus service is available through Grey Goose Bus Lines. The Town and RM operate a handi van for transporting seniors, handicapped persons and citizens in general. 

Minitonas enjoys a modern water and sewer system. Water comes from a spring fed aquifer and is treated by reverse osmosis producing very palatable soft water of excellent quality. There is a modern, well –trained and well-equipped Fire Department. The RCMP provides police services.

Minitonas boasts many amenities including Minitonas Early Years and Minitonas Middle Years Schools, modern skating and curling rinks with artificial ice, four churches and some of the friendliest people in Manitoba. Our business area includes a hotel, general store, bus depot, liquor outlet, restaurant, post office, service stations, trophy store, rock shop, ceramic shop and library. The major enterprises are agriculture, forestry, education and tourism. Louisiana Pacific, has a oriented strand board production facility, located 4 kilometers east of town and is a major employer and contributes significantly to job creation in the forestry industry, as does Spruce Products. There is a substantial outfitting and guiding industry for big game hunting that caters to hunters from all over the world. Additional businesses in the area include concrete products manufacturing plant, welding and manufacturing jobs, an abattoir, providing sale of fresh meat products, and a livestock auction market. There are several tradespersons providing services for the building and manufacturing industries.

There are many entrepreneurial opportunities in Minitonas.

Minitonas is a fine place to live or visit. 

Early History

In 1897 the Dominion Government had 20 townships in the Swan River Valley surveyed in anticipation of a future land rush. 

In the summer of 1897 a Colonization Trail was blazed from Dauphin to Minitonas. The Trail, known as the Cowan Trail, still exist and even today, the section from Cowan to Minitonas is used by horseback riders, snowmobile and all terrain vehicle enthusiasts. The campsite consisting of tents was established on the West side of the West Favel River, two kilometers West and a half kilometer South to the present Town of Minitonas. May 2, 1898, a Land Titles Agent was appointed with an office in Tent Town, so called because of the two large marquees erected by the government for the convenience of settlers arriving before the railway. During the summer of 1898, two immigration halls were built to accommodate incoming settlers. Church services were held in these halls, the ministers being supplied by the Home Mission Board. A private school was conducted in a “shack” –tuition fees were 25 cents per week. In the summer of 1899 the railway came into the Minitonas. Quickly the village of Minitonas and other villages along the railway grew and Tent Town no longer remained. A cairn marks the location today.

Minitonas since 1899

The early settlers were of Anglo-Saxon decent, coming from the British Isles, Eastern Canada, and the United States. Old records of this time have shown there were about fifty families living in Tent Town, operating businesses – grocery stores, hardware, drugs, blacksmith shops and providing surveying, freighting and construction services.

Then there was a wave of Czechoslovak, Ukrainian, German, and Polish immigrants, mostly from Poland in the late 1920’s

World War II produced a wave of displaced persons and immigrants from eastern Europe who arrived in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

The community grew into a bustling center with implement dealers, several general stores, clothing stores, garages, movie theatres, cafes, livery stables, doctor’s office and pharmacy. There were also several grain elevators, bulk fuel agents, a post office and a CN station. Major fires destroyed many of these businesses and most of the merchants chose not to rebuild.

There were several one-room schools and a town school. With the formation of the Swan Valley School Division in 1967, the rural schools closed. High school students attend the Swan Valley Regional Secondary School, which offers regular, and technology programs. University Education is delivered at the school by Campus Manitoba through distance learning. An interactive television studio is available for meetings, courses and interviews.

The Rural Municipality of Minitonas was incorporated in 1901. The Village of Minitonas was incorporated in 1948 and became the Town of Minitonas in 1996.

The churches and the schools continue to be the center of community activities, with keen interest shown in all sports to which the residents of the town and rural districts lend support. Several teams have distinguished themselves in provincial Championships. The Minitonas Thistles Soccer Club won the provincial Championship in 1908-1909. The Minitonas Hornets flourished from the 1950’s through to the 1980’s and won the Intermediate C Provincial Championship in 1976. Del Topol, of Birch River, played with the Hornets and then with Spokane Comets In the AHL and was inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame. Many local boys have gone on to junior A ranks. John Hayes, Craig Russenholt, Kirk Russenholt, Cam Russenholt, Chris Eisner, Chad Eisner, Neil Kichuk and Joel Mateika to name a few.

Baseball and softball flourished at a time. The Minitonas Bantam Boys Softball team won The Manitoba Games Championship in 1996.

The Minitonas Girls Softball Team won Provincial Championships in 1994 and 1996 and represented Manitoba at the Western Canadian Championships in 1995 and 1996. Curling also flourished, as did broomball, figure skating and an Annual Sports Day. The Minitonas Broncos and Broncettes made their mark in High School sports in Football, Track and Field and Basketball. Bernice Hart, was probably one of the most outstanding female athletes from Minitonas, played university Basketball with the University of Manitoba Bisons, won Western Canadian Championships in Racquetball and played softball in Canadian Senior Women’s Championships.

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